Sell Books

Selling Your Books Here is Easy

Do you have books to sell? Bring them in between 11am and 4pm, Monday through Saturday.

No appointment is necessary, though on Saturdays in July or December, you might want to call and make sure there isn't a waiting line.

We'll go through the books while you wait, select the ones we'd like to purchase, and make an offer promptly. Please allow ten minutes per box, more for unusual or very old books.

If you are selling a collection or are not able to bring your books in to the shop, you may call and have us visit your library on a Sunday. Available Sundays are limited; please call at least a week in advance.

We stock a wide variety of books, but we do not purchase:

- Former library books
- Condensed or abridged books
- Encyclopedias or magazines
- Books with water damage, mold, broken binding, highlighting, or torn or missing covers or pages
Thank you for sorting your books in advance.

We offer cash payments or store credit. The offer we make will be based on condition, scarcity, and demand. We do pay more for books in better condition, books of scholarly interest, and books our patrons particularly like. We can make either cash or credit offers, but we do not make split cash/credit offers. We cannot make offers for books we have not seen, though if you have a certain type of book, do feel free to call and ask whether that is something we are interested in buying. See below for current interests.

We do not carry new books. If you are an author or publisher looking to place your books with an independent bookshop in Iowa City, please contact Prairie Lights. Besides being nationally famous and a major Iowa City destination, they carry new books and so can sell your books on terms profitable to both of you. Congratulations on your publication from us, all the same!

We do not visit collections outside the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City area.

What We Want Most Right Now

Children's: Gift-quality picture books, books based on myths and folklore, and books with award-winning illustrations.
Iowa: Natural history; books by or about the Engles, the Shambaughs, or Louise Noun, and books about Stone City and its art colony, early maps and engravings depicting Iowa; books about Sioux, Sac and Fox, and earlier inhabitants of this region.
Scholarly interest: currently buying for all sections, but especially Classical studies, philosophy, religion/law/medicine from late antiquity through the Renaissance, theology, Irish history, agriculture, atlases, mythology, and works from various disciplines on brain/mind/consciousness.

We are always interested in well-written books, whether fiction or nonfiction. Some favorite subjects of ours are essays about nature, poetry, and plays, geography, graphic novels, fine-press work, books about the art of books from writing to printing. We are usually interested in award-winning and classic books through all subject areas, contingent on condition.

We do not buy textbooks, hardcover mystery novels, romance, westerns, manga series, self help, travel guides, magazines, newspapers, books published by magazine companies (Reader's Digest, Time-Life, Better Homes & Gardens), audio books, movies, CDs, vinyl records, cassette tapes, used board/card games or toys, or antiques.

We do buy old books, but we are extremely selective about condition and subject matter. Please note that "old" here means books printed before 1915 ("antiquarian" means before 1865); the condition must be clean, with all pages intact, and the binding must be secure; no unreasonable dustiness, odor, page tears or missing pages, loose sections, or broken or missing covers. If there are insects, mouse droppings, mold, etc., in the box, we will not look at the books. We are interested in a range of subjects, especially science, history, Latin, Greek, early children's books, and other illustrated books, but please bear in mind that there are subjects and books that we don't want because they are not in our areas of interest, not uncommon, not as interesting to our patrons, and/or reprint editions made with materials that will not age well and thus are not valuable as investments.

Book Credit

If you are bringing in books for sale or trade, we can offer you book credit as payment. Credit can be applied toward the purchase of any books in the store. (Credit cannot be applied toward toys or greeting cards.) Credit need not be spent immediately, and setting up an account is quick and easy. (We do not share account information with anyone except the account owner(s), so it's also hassle-free.) You can designate other people (partners, family members, friends) to share your account. Credit can also be converted to gift certificates, but cannot be converted to cash.

Working with our community

Our bookshop neighbors
We're good friends with the other independent bookstores in Iowa City, and we're pleased to give you directions to their fine establishments.

Our ongoing benefit sale
Iowa City's Free Medical Clinic offers expert, non-judgmental, free medical care to those in need in our community. Every penny you spend to buy books from our Benefit Sale shelves - $1.00 for hardcovers, 50 cents for paperbacks - goes directly to this outstanding nonprofit group. We don't believe in that vague "proceeds of" stuff.

Local groups we support
We believe that locally-owned businesses are best able to provide goods and services to match their communities' needs, so we are proud to be part of Iowa City's Shop Locally campaign.

Recycling actively is one of the ways that we work to help our environment. Our books are used, carefully cleaned and repaired for your reuse, and we make every effort to keep our sourcing, operations, and disposal as green as possible. We can help you to find the best way to dispose responsibly of your used bookshelves, magazines, papers, or damaged books. Ask us for details.

Our community message boards
In the foyer and in the hall are local postings about events, groups, pets, jobs, housing, and more. Also, stop here to pick up your copy of the free monthly magazines Little Village, Radish, and Iowa Source, excellent publications about Iowa food, arts, and events.
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